The Fall, and Original Sin:—(Continued). 


1. Refute the evasions of the Pelagians and others from the argument for native depravity.
Turrettin, Loc. 9., Qu. Io. Edwards on Orig. Sin, pt. 1., ch. 1, ch. 9.

2. Answer the objections to imputation a) from the Scriptures, as Deuteronomy 24:16, and Ezekiel 18:20 b) from the absence of consent by us to Adam's representation; c) from its supposed injustice; (d from God's goodness.
Turrettin, Qu. 9. Edwards, pt. 4. Stapfer, Poll Theol., Vol. 4., ch. 17, ch. 78. Thornwell, Lect. 13. Knapp, ch. 76. Hodge Theol., pt. 2., ch. 8, ch. 13.

3. Explain the theories of Mediate and Immediate Imputation and show the correct view.
Turrettin, Qu. 9. Edwards, pt. 4., ch. 3. Stapfer, Poll Theol., Vol. i ch. 3 ch. 856-7, Vol. 4. ch. 16, and as above. South. Presb. Revelation, April, 1873, Art. I, and April, 1875, Art. 6. Breckinridge's Theol., Vol. 1., ch. 3. Review of Dr. Thornwell's Collected Works, Vol. 1., p. 445, etc. Hodge pt. 2., ch. 8. Baird's Elohim Revealed, ch. 14. Calv. Inst., bk. 1., ch. 2, and Com. on Romans 5. Chalmers' Theo Institutes. Princeton Review, 1830, pp. 481-503.

4. What the importance of the doctrine of Original Sin, from its connections with the other doctrines of Redemption?

WE now group together the usual objections advanced by opponents against our argument for native depravity.

Objections. Adam Sinned; But Was Not Originally Corrupt.

It is urged, if the sinning of men now proves they have native depravity, Adam's sinning would prove that he had; since the generality of an effect does not alter its nature. I reply, the sophism is in veiling Adam's continued and habitual sinning, after he fell, with the first sin, by which he fell. Did we only observe Adam's habit of sinning, without having known him from his origin, the natural and reasonable induction, so far as human reason could go, would be, that he was originally depraved. But the proof would be incomplete, because our observation did not trace this habit up, as we do in the case of infants, to the origin of his existence. It is revelation which informs us how Adam became a habitual sinner, not inference. But if Adam's first sin be compared with his descendant's perpetual sins, the difference is, that an occasional effect requires an occasional cause; but a constant effect requires a constant cause.

Some Pelagians say, a self-determined, contingent will, is enough to account for all men's sinning. We reply:—how comes a contingent force to produce always uniform effects? If a die, when thrown, falls in various ways, its falling is contingent. But if it always fall the same way, every gambler knows it is loaded.

Example. May It Account For It?

Pelagians offer the general power of an evil example, as the sufficient explanation why all men grow up sinners. Calvinists answer. (a). How comes it that the example is universally evil? This itself is the effect to be accounted for. (b). If there were no innate tendency to evil, a bad example would usually repel and disgust the holy soul. (c). All young immortals have not been subjected to an equally bad example; witness the godly families of Adam, Seth, Noah, Abraham, and the pious now, and above all, the spotless example of Jesus Christ. If the power of example were the decisive cause, these good examples (not perfect, but, approximating thereto, would sometimes have produced an efficient upward tendency in some families.

May Influence of Sense Account For Sin?

Some say:—Sense develops before reason; and thus the child is betrayed under the power of appetite, before its moral faculties are strong enough to guide him. I answer, mere animal appetite, without moral element, has no moral quality; it is the heart which gives the evil element to bodily appetite, not vice versa. But chiefly; we show that the result is uniform and certain:—whence it would be the efficient result of God's natural law; which makes it more obnoxious to the charge of making God the author of sin, than the Calvinistic theory.

10. Objections To Imputation.

Against the other element of original sin, the imputed guilt of Adam's first sin, it is also objected, that it cannot be true:—for then God will appear to have acted with equal severity against poor helpless babes, who, on the Calvinist's theory, have no except total depravity never yet expressed in a single overt act against His law; and against Adam, the voluntary sinner:—and Satan and his angels. We reply, No. All infinites are not equal. Pascal and Sir Isaac Newton have shown, that of two true infinites one may be infinitely larger than another. If the infant, Adam, and Satan, be all punished eternally, they will not be punished equally. Further; has it been proved that any infants who die in infancy, (without overt sin), are eternally lost? The question however is:—are infants depraved by nature? And is this tendency of will to evil, morally evil? Then God is entitled to punish it as it deserves.

Objections From Scripture.

A Scriptural objection is raised, from such passages as Deuteronomy 24:16. It is urged with great confidence, that here, the principle on which Calvinists represent God as acting, (God the pure and good Father in Heaven, is seen to be so utterly wicked, that imperfect human magistrates are forbidden to practice on it. I reply; it is by no means true that an act would be wicked in God, because it would be wicked in man. e. g., Man may not kill; God righteously kills millions every year. But second:—the object of civil government is very different from that of God's government. The civil magistrate does not punish sin in order to requite absolutely its ill-desert, (this is the function of God alone, but to preserve the public order and well-being, by making an example of criminals. Now, of that element of guilt against society, the children of the murderer or thief are clear; for the magistrate to shed their blood for this, would be to shed innocent blood:—i. e., innocent as to that element of guilt which it is the civil magistrate's business to punish. Here, let it be noted, the punishment of Achan's Saul's, etc., children, for their fathers, was the act of God, not the magistrate. The cases were exceptional.

Objections From Ezekiel 18:1-23 Answered.

Again:—it is urged with much clamour, that in Ezekiel 18:1-23, God expressly repudiates the scheme of imputation of fathers' sins to their posterity, for Himself, as well as for magistrates; and declares this as the great law of His kingdom:—"The soul that sinneth, it shall die." We reply:—He does not mean to disclaim the imputation of Adam's sin to the human race. For first:—He does not mean here, to disclaim all principles of imputation in His Providence even as to parents and posterity subsequent to Adam. If you force this sense on His words, all you get by it is an irreconcilable collision between this passage and Exodus 20:5, and obvious facts in His providence. Second, if it were true universally of human parents subsequent to Adam, it would not follow as to Adam's first sin. For there is a clear distinction between that act of Adam, and all the sins of other parents. He alone was a federal head in a Covenant of works. The moment he fell, by that act, the race fell in him, and its apostasy was effected; the thing was done; and could not be done over. From that hour, a Covenant of works became inapplicable to man, and neither parents nor children, for themselves, nor for each other, have had any probation under it. So that the case is widely different, between Adam in his first sin, and all other parents in their sin. Third:—the Covenant to which this whole passage has reference was, not the old Covenant of works, whose probation was forever past, but the political, theocratic Covenant between God and Israel. Israel, as a commonwealth, was now suffering under providential penalties, for the breach of that political covenant exactly according to the terms of the threatenings. (See Deuteronomy 28.). But although that was indisputable, the banished Jews still consoled their pride by saying, that it was their fathers' breach of the national Covenant for which they were suffering. In this plea God meets them:—and tells them it was false:—for the terms of the theocracy were such that the covenant-breaking of the father would never be visited under it on the son who thoroughly disapproved of it, and acted in the opposite way. How far is this from touching the subject of Original Sin? But last:—we might grant that the passage did refer to original sin:—and still refute the objector thus:—God says the son who truly disapproves of and reverses his father's practices, shall live. Show us now, a child of Adam who fulfils this condition, in his own strength; and we will allow that the guilt of Adam's sin has not affected him.

Adam's Representation A Humane Arrangement.

In defending the federal relationship instituted between Adam and his posterity against the charge of cruelty, let it be distinctly understood, that we do not aim to justify the equity of the arrangement merely by the plea that it was a benevolent one and calculated to promote the creature's advantage. For if it were an arrangement intrinsically unrighteous, it would be no sufficient answer to say, that it was politic and kindly. God does not "do evil, that good may come; "nor hold that "the end sanctifies the means." But still, we claim that, as the separate charge of cruelty, or harshness, is urged against this federal arrangement, we can triumphantly meet it, and show that the arrangement was eminently benevolent; thus reconciling it to the divine attribute of goodness, so far as that is concerned in it. And further:—while the benevolence of an arrangement may not be a sufficient justification of its righteousness, yet it evidently helps to palliate the charge of injustice, and to raise a presumption in favour of the equity of the preceding. If there were injustice in such a transaction, one element of it must be that it was mischievous to the happiness of the parties.

Its Benevolence Proved By Comparison.

The federal relation, then, was consistent with God's goodness. Let the student remember what was established concerning the natural rights and relations of a holy creature towards his Creator. The former could never earn a claim, by natural justice, to any more than this:—to be well treated to the extent of his natural well-being merely, as long as he behaves himself perfectly, or until God should see fit to annihilate him. If God condescended to any fuller communications of happiness, or to give any promise of eternal life, it must be by an act of free grace. And the covenant of works was such an act of grace. Now, a race of men being created, holy and happy, there were, as far as the human mind can imagine, but four plans possible for them. One was, to be left under their natural relation to God forever. The second was, to have the gracious offer of a covenant of works, under which each one should stand for himself, and a successful probation of some limited period, (suppose 70 years, be kindly accepted by God for his justification, and adoption into eternal life. The third was, for God to enter into such a covenant of works, for a limited period, with the head of the race federally, for himself and his race, so that if he stood the limited probation, justification and adoption should be graciously bestowed on him, and in him, on all the race; and if he failed, all should be condemned in him. The last was the plan actually chosen:—Let us compare them, and see if it is not far the most benevolent of the three.

The first plan, I assert, would have resulted, sooner or later, in the sin and fall of every member of the race, and that, with a moral certainty. (This may be the reason that God has condescended to a Covenant with each order of rational creatures after creating them). For creatures, no matter how holy, are finite, in all their faculties and habitudes. But, in an existence under law, i. e., under duty, requiring perpetual and perfect obedience, and protracted to immortality, the number and variety of exigencies or moral trials, would become infinite; and therefore the chance of error, in the passage of a finite holiness through them, would become ultimately a most violent probability, mounting nearer and nearer to a moral certainty. Whenever sin occurred, the mere natural relation of the soul to God would require Him to avenge it. Thus one after another would stumble, till ultimately all were lost. Were innocent creatures thus required to sustain and guide themselves, as they moved in their exact orbits around the throne of God:—one after another would, in the lapse of an eternity, forsake the path, increase his centrifugal force, and fly off into outer darkness; leaving God at last, a sun without a planet. This plan would have been least benevolent.

But suppose each man allowed the privilege of a Covenant of works, for some limited time, to win the grace of adoption unto life by a perfect obedience for, say, 70 years, and beginning his probation with a perfectly innocent nature. How would that work? Why:—have we not here, the very state of the case which Socinians and Pelagians say, actually prevails? Let man's experience then, even as interpreted by these heretics, give the answer how it works. Do they not admit that, by virtue of evil example, nearly all fall? Can they deny that the earth is full of misery and wickedness; and that none remain absolutely innocent? If then, our present state were consistently interpreted as a probation under a Covenant of works, in which any sin forfeits the prize; if Pelagians would be consistent, and not introduce the preposterous idea of pardon under such a plan, where it has no place; even they would be compelled to admit that this second scheme does actually result in a total failure. Under it, all are destroyed. It too, then has as little beneficence as the first. This, I grant, is an argumentum ad hominem; but it is a just one. But we might leave the Pelagians premises, and still reason, that the second scheme would only result in death. The actual failure of the first man's probation settles the question as to him. The next would have had the same chances of fall, aggravated by the evil example and enticements of the first; and soon, the current of evil would have become so general that all would go with it.

Advantage of Covenant of Works, With A Representative.

Let us come to the third plan. Is it said, that practically, all have died under that also, so that it is on a par with the other two? I answer, no; because the probabilities of a favourable issue were as great as could well be imagined, compatibly with leaving the creature mutable at all. For, instead of having a risk repeated millions of times, under circumstances increasingly untoward, only one risk was permitted. And this was under the most favourable possible conditions. The probationer had no human bad company; he was in the maturity of his powers and knowledge; whereas his posterity would have had to begin their trial in their inexperienced boyhood. He had the noblest motives to stand, imaginable. Had the probation resulted favourably, so that we had all entered existence assured against sin and misery, and the adopted heirs of eternal life, how should we have magnified the goodness of God in the dispensation? The grace bestowed through the first Adam, would have been only second in its glory, to that we now adore in the second! Now, the failure was not God's fault; His goodness is just the same in the plan, as though it had eventuated well. It is no objection to say, that God foreknow, all the while, how unfortunately it would eventuate, and even determined to permit it. For this objection is no other than the one against the permission of evil; which no one can solve. It is but to restate the question:—Why did not God just communicate Himself at once to every reasonable creature, so as absolutely to conform His will against sin, without proposing any covenant, or probation at all? There is no answer, but Matthew 11:26. This plan, the fourth and only other, being excluded, as stubborn fact proves it was, the federal arrangement made with Adam for his posterity, was the most liberal one.

Objection Against Justice of Imputation.

But the grand objection of all Pelagians and sceptics, is still repeated:—How can it be justice, for me, who gave no consent to the federal arrangement, for me, who was not present when Adam sinned, and took no share in it, save in a sense purely fictitious and imaginary, to be so terribly punished for another man's deed. This is nothing else than the intrinsic injustice of punishing an innocent man for the fault of the guilty. As well might God have gotten up a legal fiction of a federal relation between Gabriel and Satan, and when the latter sinned, dragged Gabriel down, innocent, and even ignorant of any crime, to hell. Against such a plan, the moral instincts of man rebel. It is simply impossible that they should accept it as righteous.

Several Answers. 

1. The Wesleyan Is Inadequate.

I have thus stated this objection in its full force. So far as I am aware, there have been five several expedients proposed for meeting it. 1. The Wesleyan says:—the injustice would appear, if it were not remedied in the second Adam, in whom the imputation of Adam's guilt and original sin are so far repaired, as to give common sufficient grace to every child of Adam. So that the two dispensations ought to be viewed together; and what is harsh in one will be compensated in the other. This is inadmissible for many reasons; chiefly because there is no common sufficient grace; and because if this solution be adopted, then the gospel will be of debt, and not of grace.

2. President Edwards' Also Inadequate.

We find President Edwards endeavouring to evade the objection, by asserting that our federal oneness with Adam is no more arbitrary, in that it was constituted by God's fiat than our own personal identity:—for that also is constituted only by God's institution. If it be asked why it is just that I should be punished today, for a sin committed last year, our moral instincts answer:—Because I am the same person who sinned. But the Pelagian objection urges that we are not one with Adam in any real sense, and therefore cannot be justly made guilty for Adam's sin. But. says Edwards:—"What is personal identity; and is it any less arbitrary than our federal identity with Adam?" He answers:—In no wise. Because our existence is dependent and successive. Its sustentation is a perpetual recreation. Its succession is a series of moments, of which one moment's existence does not cause or produce a succeeding moment's, not being coexistent with it, as cause and effect must always be. Hence, our continued identity is nothing else than a result of the will of God, sovereignly ordaining to restore our existence out of e. g. by a perpetual recreation, at the beginning of each new moment, and to cause in us a consciousness which seems to give sameness. I will venture the opinion that no man, not Edwards himself, ever satisfied himself, by this argument, that his being had not a true, intrinsic continuity, and a real, necessary identity, in itself. And it may usually be concluded, that when any scientific hypothesis conflicts thus with universal common sense, it is sophistical. In this case, a more correct Metaphysics has justified common sense. Our belief in our own identity is not derived from our remembered consciousness, but implied in it. Belief in identity is an à priori, and necessary conception. If it be not accepted as valid, there is no valid law of thought at all. When I speak of the I, a true and intrinsic continuity of being is necessarily implied. Nor is it true that because the moments of successive time are not connected, therefore the existence which we necessarily conceive of as flowing on in time, is disconnected in its momenta. We have seen that the notion of a perpetual recreation in the providential support of dependent being is unproved. Hence we repudiate this Edwardian speculation as worthless, and contradicted by our own intuitions.

Dr. S. J. Baird's Unsound.

Another attempt is made to establish a real identity of Adam's posterity with him, so as to lay a seeming basis for the imputation, by a class of theologians represented by Dr. S. J. Baird's "Elohim Revealed," who claim St. Augustine as of their party. They say, we are made guilty of Adam's sin, because "we sinned in him and fell with him," not merely in a putative and federal sense, but really and truly. Thus we are involved in a true and proper responsibility for the sin of Adam, because we were actually in him seminally, as our root. They teach that we become sinners in him, because the Nature sinned in him, and became guilty in him, as well as depraved; and this nature we have. Our nature they define to be that aggregate of forces, or attributes which constitute the human race what it is; and this, they hold, is not an abstraction when regarded distinctly from all individual men, but an objective reality, not indeed a substance, yet an entity. This nature, which thus sinned, and became guilty and depraved in Adam's act, is transferred as a real germ, to every human being from him; and hence depravity and guilt go along. This theory, while not exactly medieval Realism, is certainly something near akin to it; and the objections are of the same kind. That the phrase, human nature, expresses anything more than a complex. conception of our thought, when abstracted from any one and every one human person, is untrue. This nature, they say, is the aggregate of all the forces which characterise man as man. But have those forces, each one, separate existence, as abstracted from all the individual men whom they characterise? Has the attribute of risibility, e. g., separate existence from each and every risible being? Obviously not. How then can the aggregate of these attributes? Again:—we cannot attach the idea of sin, morality, responsibility, and guilt to anything but a personal being. If the nature, along with which the depravity and responsibility are transmitted, has not personality, the theory does not help us at all. But if you give it personality, have you not gotten back to the common soul of Averroes, the half-way house of Pantheism? Third:—if the imputation of Adam's guilt is grounded solely on the fact that the nature we bear sinned and was corrupted in him, must it not follow that Christ's human nature is also corrupt, inasmuch as it was made guilty? And indeed is not our obeying and atoning in Him, through the community of the nature that obeyed and atoned, precisely as real and intrinsic, as our sinning and corrupting ourselves in Adam? For these reasons, we must reject this explanation as untrue, if anything more be meant by it, than a strong way of stating the vital truth, that imputation is partly grounded on the fact Adam was the natural head of the race.

Mediate Imputation.

Turrettin sufficiently gives us the history and author of the fourth scheme of imputation. Placæus said that the imputation of Adam's sin was only mediate, and consequent upon our participation in total native depravity, which we derive by the great law, that like begets like. We, being thus depraved by nature, and, so to speak, endorsing his sin, by exhibiting the same spirit and committing similar acts, it is just in God to implicate us in the same punishments.

Let it be remarked, first, that the charge made in the National Synod of Charenton, was, that Placæus had denied all imputation of Adam's guilt, and had made original sin consist exclusively in subjective depravity. This is precisely what the Synod condemned. It was to evade this censure, that he invented the distinction between an "antecedent and immediate imputation" of Adam's guilt, which he denied, and a "mediate and subsequent imputation," which he professed to hold. It appears then, that this invention was no part of the theology, of the Reformed churches, and had never been heard of before. So thought Dr. A. Alexander, (Princeton Review, Oct. 1839. The distinction seems to have been a ruse designed to shelter himself from censure, and to lay a snare for his accusers. It was unfortunate that they, like his chief opponent, Andrew Rivet, fell into it, by advocating the "antecedent and immediate imputation," as the only true view. It does not appear to me that those who, with Rivet, have laboured to show that this is the doctrine of the Reformed Symbols, have at all proved their point. The distinction is, like that of the Supralapsarian and Infralapsarian, an attempted over-refinement, which should never have been made, which explained nothing, and whose corollaries increased the difficulties of the subject.

Turrettin, and those who assert the "antecedent immediate imputation," charge that the scheme of Placæus is only Arminianism in disguise, and that it really leaves no imputation of Adam's guilt at all; inasmuch as they say it leaves the personal guilt of the child's own subjective corruption, as the real ground of all the penal infliction incurred by original sin. While these objections seem just in part, I would add two others:—First. Placæus, like the lower Arminian, seems to offer the fact that God should have extended the law "like begets like," to man's moral nature, as an explanation of original sin. This, as I urged before, is only obtruding the fact itself as an explanation of the fact. To extend this law of nature to responsible persons, is an ordination of God. The question is:—on what judicial basis does this ordination rest? Second:—Placæus scheme is false to the facts of the case, in that it represents Adam's posterity as having, in God's view, an actual, antecedent, depraved existence, at least for a moment, before they passed therefore under condemnation; whereas the Scriptures represent them as beginning their existence condemned, as well as depraved. See Ephesians 2; 3.

Immediate Imputation.

In opposition to this scheme, Turrettin states the view of immediate imputation, which has since been defined and asserted in its most rigid sharpness by the Princeton school. It boldly repudiates every sense in which we really or actually sinned in Adam, and admits no other than merely the representative sense of a positive covenant. It says that the guilt of Adam's first sin, which was personally nobody's but Adam's own, is sovereignly imputed to his posterity. Depravity of nature is a part of the penalty of death, due to Adam's sin, and is visited on Adam's children purely as the penal consequence of the putative guilt they bear. For sin may be the punishment of sin. Very true, after depravity of nature thus becomes personally theirs, it also brings an addition of personal guilt, for which they are thenceforward punished, as well as for actual transgressions. The grounds for this statement are chiefly these two:—1. That Romans 5:12-20 asserts an exact parallel between our federal relation to Adam and to Christ so that, as the imputation of Christ's righteousness to us, conceived as personally unrighteous, goes before procuring our justification, and then all sanctifying grace is bestowed working personal sanctification, as purchased by Christ's righteousness for us; so, we must conceive Adam's guilt imputed to us, we being conceived as, in the first instance, personally guiltless, but for that guilt; and then depravity given us, working personal sin and guilt, as the mischievous purchase of Adam's federal act for us. And, as the parallel must be exact, if this view of original sin be rejected, then the view of justification must be modified "to suit;" making it consist first in an infusion of personal righteousness in the believer, and then the consequent accounting to us of Christ's righteousness. But that is precisely the Roman Catholic justification. 2. The connection between the second Adam and His believing people, in the covenant of grace, includes an imputation which is the exact counterpart of that of the first Adam's guilt. This is the two-fold imputation of our sins to Christ, and of His righteousness to us. But the former of these is strictly an imputation of peccatum alienum to Christ; and the latter is an immediate imputation of His righteousness to us. Hence, if we deny this scheme of antecedent, immediate imputation, we must give up salvation by imputed righteousness, and there remains no way of escape for sinners.

I propose to dwell upon this question a little more than its congenital importance deserves. Having pronounced it a useless and erroneous distinction, I might be expected to dismiss it with scant notice. But it receives an incidental importance from the important truths connected with it. These are, most prominently, the difficulties concerning the righteousness of the imputation of Adam's guilt, and also, the nature of imputation in general, justification, union to Christ, God's providence in visiting the sins of parents on children, (Exodus 20:5, and the manner in which the ethical reason should be treated, when it advances objections against revealed truth.

I sustain my position, then, that this distinction between "mediate," and "immediate" imputation should never have been made, by showing that it causelessly aggravates the difficulties of the awful doctrine of original sin, exaggerating needlessly the angles of a subject which is, at best, sufficiently mysterious; that the arguments by which the immediate imputation must be sustained misrepresent the doctrines of the spiritual union and justification; and especially, that it is false to the facts of the case. In a mode the counterpart of Placæus it represents the child of Adam as having a separate, undepraved, personal existence, at least for an instant; until from innocent, it becomes depraved by God's act, as a penal consequence of Adam's guilt imputed as peccatum alienum solely.9 But in fact, man now never has any personal existence at all, save a depraved existence. As he enters being condemned, so he enters it depraved. This over-refinement thus leads us to an error in the statement of fact, which matches that resulting from the opposite scheme. Does not this show very clearly, that the distinction should never have been made? And can those who advocate the "immediate, precedaneous imputation," after applauding the refutation of Placæus by the parallel argument, justly recoil from its application to themselves?

But it is argued, that since the imputation of our guilt to Christ is an immediate imputation of peccatum alienum grounded in His community of nature with His people, the parallelism of the two doctrines shuts us up to a similar imputation of Adam's guilt to us. I reply:—the cases indisputably differ in two vital respects. It may be asked if both covenants do not rest on the principle of imputation? The answer is, of course, yes; both covenants involve the principle, that God may justly transfer guilt from one moral agent to another under certain conditions. But it does not follow, that He will do this under any conditions whatever.10 Does any one suppose, for instance, that God would have condemned holy Gabriel for Satan's sin, without any assent, complicity or knowledge, on the part of the former? But we shall find that the cases of Adam and Christ are conditioned differently in two important respects. First:—Christ's bearing our imputed guilt was conditioned on His own previous, voluntary consent. See John 10:18. All theologians, so far as I know, regard this as essential to a just imputation of peccatum alienum directly to Him. See, for instance, Dr. Thornwell's Mission Sermon of 1856. "It" (Christ's covenant with the Father), "binds not by virtue of a right to command, but by virtue of a consent to obey." Butler's Analogy. pt. 2, chap. 5, 7. Owen on Justif. p. 194. Chalmers' Theol. Inst., vol. I, p. 498. If a man were to hold that the Father would have made this imputation of another's guilt upon His Son, in spite of the Son's exercising His legitimate autocracy to refuse and decline it, I should consider that man past reasoning with. But Adam's infant children receive the imputation, when they are incapable of a rational option or assent about it. The other difference in the two cases, (which it seems amazing any one can overlook, is the one pointed out in Romans 5:16-19, and 6:23. For the judgment was by one to condemnation; but the free gift (verse 15, "gift by grace" is of many offences unto justification." The imputation of Adam's sin was a transaction of strict, judicial righteousness; the other transaction was one of glorious, free grace. Now, can any righteous judge be imagined, who would allow himself equal latitude in his judicial convictions, which he claims in his acts of voluntary beneficence? Would not the righteous magistrate answer, that in condemning, he felt himself restricted by the exact merits of the parties; but that in giving, he felt himself free to transcend their merits, and bestow what his generous impulses prompted? It may be praiseworthy to dispense blessings above the deserts of the beneficiaries; it cannot be other than injustice to dispense penalties beyond the deserts of the culprits. We thus find that the imputation to us from Adam, and from us to Christ, are unavoidably conditioned in different ways in part; in other respects they are analogous.

Our next point is founded on the admission, in which we are all agreed, that the imputation of Adam's guilt to us, is in part grounded, essentially, in the community of nature. But with which nature of Adam, are we united by the tie of race; the fallen, or the unfallen? Adam had no offspring until after he became a sinner. Then he begat even Seth, the father of the holy seed, "in his own likeness, after his image." (Genesis 5:3. The Scriptures, from Job to Christ, assure us, that the thing which is born of the flesh is flesh. The race union obviously unites us with Adam fallen, in his corrupted nature. Hence we argue, that if this race union is one of the essential grounds of the imputation, it cannot be antecedent to that subjective corruption of nature, on which it is partly grounded. This reasoning has been felt as so forcible, that the advocates of immediate imputation have found it necessary to study evasions. One is, to argue that our federal union was with the nature of Adam unfallen, because the moment he fell, the covenant of works was abrogated. I reply:—Not so; for if that covenant was then abrogated, it is strange that we are still suffering the penalty of its breach! The true statement is, that the broken covenant still remains in force, against all not in the second Adam, as a rule of condemnation; its breach by our representative only made it ineffectual as a rule of life. Another evasion is, to say, that our Nature had its representation and probation in Adam, before any of us had a personal existence, and while the nature in him was unfallen. I reply by asking:—What sense do the words, "our Nature," have in this statement? Is it of the imputation of Adam's guilt to the Nature, that we are debating? or of its imputation to persons? Now, it is only a metaphor to speak of beings as bearing a relation to each other, while one of them, (Adam's descendant is non-existent as yet. Only existing beings sustain actual relations. The only other sense, in which the relation between me and Adam had an actual being before I existed, was as it stood in God's decree. This may be illustrated by the counterpart doctrine of justification. The Conf. chap 11, 4, says:—" God did from all eternity decree to justify all the elect…nevertheless they are not justified until the Holy Spirit cloth, in due time, actually apply Christ unto them." By parity of reasoning I hold, that God did, from all eternity, decree to condemn all men federally connected with Adam in his fall, nevertheless, they are not condemned actually, until they actually begin to exist in natural and federal union with their fallen head. But this is almost a truism.

Thus we pass to a corresponding argument from the dependence of the actual imputation of Christ's righteousness to us upon a certain union between Him and us. All again admit this. What species of union is it? The spiritual union. This question and answer, like the touch-stone, reveal the unsoundness of the opposing logic. The student will remember how it argues:—That inasmuch as we must make an exact parallel between the imputation of Adam's guilt and Christ's righteousness, we must hold that the imputing of the guilt of Adam's first sin precedaneously and immediately as solely peccatum alienum must go before, upon the offspring conceived as so far personally innocent:—and then, we must consider his subjective depravity as following that putative sentence, and as the penal result thereof, or else the symmetry of the two cases will lead us from Placæus ground to conceive of justification thus:—that God finds in the sinner an inherent righteousness, which mediates the imputation to him of the subsequent righteousness of Christ for his full acceptance. But this is virtually the vicious, Papal view of justification. True, I reply:—this explodes Placæus but it also explodes their own scheme. For if we make justification correspond, by an exact symmetry, to the scheme of their "immediate, antecedent imputation," then we must logically arrive at this doctrine of justification:—The sinner, while still in his depravity, apprehends Christ's righteousness directly, gratuitously and antecedently, imputed to him; and then, as part of the consequent reward of that imputed merit, has regeneration wrought, infusing the sanctified nature of his redeeming Head into his soul. But as faith is in order to justification, this speculation must lead us to the following order. First, the convicted sinner, while unrenewed, exercises the initial saving faith. Second, he is thereupon justified. Third, he then procures, as one of the fruits of the reconciliation, a holy heart, like his Saviour's. Now, a moderate tincture of theology will teach any one that this is precisely the Arminian Theory of justification. And a little reflection will show, that he who makes faith precede regeneration in the order of causation, must, if consistent, be a synergist. Thus it appears that this scheme cuts off the Calvinistic doctrine of justification as rigidly as it does Placæus. That doctrine, as none have stated more clearly than Dr. Hodge, [as in Theol. vol. 2, p. 195,] distinguishes between inherent and legal righteousness. The latter no justified sinner has of his own, either at the moment he is justified, or ever after. The former, every believer partakes, through the grace of effectual calling, in order to the faith by which he receives justification. All intelligent Calvinists, so far as I know, teach that the application of redemption begins with effectual calling. The order they give is this:—First, regeneration, implanting Christ's spiritual life, by which the sinner is enabled to believe:—Second, faith, and then justification. In short, the believer is not first justified in order to become a partaker of Christ's nature. He is made a partaker of that nature, in order to be justified. The vital union is both legal and spiritual:—community in Christ's righteousness is one fruit; holy living is the other.

Once more:—All Calvinists will concur with Dr. Hodge in stating, [Theol. vol. 2, pp. 196, 211], that since the ground of the imputation of Adam's guilt to us is the union of nature, the consequences of the fall come on us in the same order as on Adam. But now, I ask, was Adam's depravity solely a penal consequence of his first transgression? Surely not; for unless a depraved motive had prompted his act, it would not have carried guilt. The intention of the crime is what qualifies the act as criminal. In Adam's case, the subjective depravation (self-induced and the guilt, were simultaneous and mutually involved. Then, according to the concession made, the scheme of immediate, precedaneous imputation is surrendered. We return, then, to the consistent statement with which the discussion of original sin began:—That the federal and representative union between Adam and his offspring, in the covenant of works, was designed to result thus whatever legal status and whatever moral character Adam should win for himself under his probation, that status and that character each of his children by nature should inherit, on entering his existence.

I have not appealed to the illustrative cases in which God visits the iniquities of parents on their children; because I do not regard them as strictly parallel to our federal union with Adam. Our parents now are not acting for us under a covenant of works. In this sense they are not our federal representatives, as Adam was. But as the attempt has been made to wield these cases against me, I willingly meet them. It has been said, for instance, that Achan's infant children, incapable of the sin of political treason and sacrilege, were put to death for their father's guilt. Does any one suppose, that they would have died by God's order, if they had been as pure before Him, as the humanity of the infant Jesus? Hardly! The doctrine as taught by God, (Deuteronomy 5:9Matthew 23:32-35 is, that He now visits the guilt of sinful parents on sinful children. The Pharisees' filling up, by their own sins, the measure of their fathers, was the condition of their inheriting the penalty of all the righteous blood shed from Abel to Zacharias. This Turrettin teaches, Loc. 9, Qu, 9, against the interest of his own erroneous logic. Thus, we find, in this extensive class of providential dealings, cases of what Dr. Hodge correctly deems, true imputation. But the conditions are not identical with those which he claims for Adam's case.

I have said that the attempts made by Rivet and other later divines, to prove that their doctrine of immediate, precedaneous imputation is that of the Reformed Churches and symbols, are vain. My conviction is, that this scheme, like the supralapsarian, is a novelty and an over-refinement, alien to the true current of the earlier Reformed theology, and some of Placæus; day were betrayed into the exaggeration by the snare set for them by his astuteness, and their own over-zeal to expose him. I beg leave to advance one or two witnesses in support. Stapfer, who has been erroneously quoted, as on Placæus' side, says:—(Vol. 4; ch. 17:78. Note. "The whole controversy they" (impugners of the justice of imputation, "have with us about this matter, evidently arises from this:—that they suppose the mediate and the immediate imputation are distinguished one from the other, not only in the manner of conception, but in reality. And so indeed, they consider imputation only as immediate, and abstractedly from the mediate, when yet our divines suppose that neither ought to be considered separately from the other. Therefore I choose not to use any such distinction.…While I have been writing this note, I have consulted all the systems of divinity which I have by me, that I might see what was the true and genuine opinion of our chief divines in this affair, and I found they were of the same mind with me." Markius, in DeMoor, says:—If Placaus meant nothing more by mediate imputation, than that "hominum natorum actualem punitionem ulteriorem non fieri nudo intuitu Adamicæ transgressionis, absque interveniente etiam propria corruptione, et fluentibus hinc sceleribus variis, neminem orthodoxonem posses habere obloquentem." DeMoor quotes Vogelsang, (Com. vol. iii. p. 275, as saying:—"Certe neminem sempiterna subire supplicia propter inobedientia protoplasti, nisi mediante cognata perversitate." Calvin in his Inst. but more distinctly in his exposition of Romans 5:12-19, teaches just the view I have given. This much belaboured passage has been often claimed, as clearly teaching the immediate, antecedent imputation. Thus Dr. Hodge assumes. He claims that the correct interpretation of this passage, demands his view of the exact identity of the two imputations, in the Covenant of works, and of grace. He then, reasoning in a circle, defends his interpretation chiefly from the assumed premise of that identity. The details of his exposition seem to be more akin to those of the Socinian expositors, and of Whitby, than of the old Reformed. To me it appears, that Calvin shows a truer insight into the scope of the Apostle's discourse, and gives more satisfactory meanings of the particular phrases. The question is urged:—Since Paul illustrates justification by original sin, must we not suppose an exact parallel between the illustration and the thing illustrated? I reply:—We must suppose so real a resemblance as to make the illustration a fair one; but this does not include an exact parallel. Few scriptural illustrations present an exact one. I have showed that Dr. Hodge's effort here to maintain one, is deceptive; and that if it were faithfully carried out, it would land us all in Arminianism, (where Whitby stood). The Apostle himself, in verse 13-17, makes exceptions to the exactness of his own parallel! In view of these facts, and of the silence of our Confession touching the exaggerated scheme, we treat the charge that we are making a defection from Calvinism by preferring the old, Calvinistic doctrine to the new one of Princeton, with the entire indifference it deserves.

But it is time to return to the rationalistic objection against the justice of imputation, which has been the occasion of the speculations reviewed. (See p. 338,). Dr. Hodge seems to dispose of this objection, by simply disregarding it. The amount of satisfaction he offers to the recalcitrant reason is:—God makes this immediate imputation, and therefore it must be right, whatever reason says. Whether this is wise, or prudent, or just logic, we shall see. All the other writers I have read, who incline to the extreme view, betray a profound sense of this difficulty, by their resort to uneasy expedients to evade it. (We have seen those of Wesley and of Edwards:—who belong to different schools of opinion from Turrettin, and from each other). But these evasions, if they satisfy themselves, do not satisfy each other. That adopted by Dr. Hodge, from Turrettin, (Loc. ix. Qu. 9:14; Theology, Vol. 2:—p. 211 is, that the penalty we incur from Adam's imputed guilt is, (a privative, and (b), positive. The former, involving simply the lack of original righteousness, is visited on us by the immediate, precedaneous imputation. The latter, carrying spiritual death and all positive miseries, is imputed mediately. Though the second inseparably follows the first, yet they are to be thus distinguished. Dr. Thornwell effectually explodes this evasion for us. (Works, Vol. i.—p. 333). He asks:—if the child of Adam is initially pure, is there any less difficulty in a just and Holy God's treating him as a sinner, than in His causing him to be a sinner? And if this penal treatment (on imputation of peccatum alienum does cause him to be a sinner, have we not both the difficulties on our hands? For, second:—the distinction between a privative, and a positive depravation is, for a Calvinist, utterly inconsistent. Turrettin, when arguing against Pelagians and Papists, has himself proved that the privative state of a lack of original righteousness is, ipso facto, positive depravity. So says common sense. That a rational creature of God, knowing His perfections, and His own accountability, should fail to love and reverence Him, is itself to be in a positively unholy state. I add, third, that even if the distinction were allowed, yet if from the privative, the positive depravation unavoidably and naturally follows, then the same judicial act which inflicts the one has also inflicted the other. The executioner, who swings off the felon to be hanged, from the platform of the gibbet, does thereby choke him to death.

Dr. Thornwell, in turn, after looking the doctrine of immediate precedaneous imputation steadily in the face, finds himself constrained to seek a palliation for its difficulty, in the same direction from which he had sought to recall Dr. S. J. Baird a few years before. On pp. 349, 350, of his Lectures, he says:—"On these grounds I am free to confess, that I cannot escape from the doctrine, however mysterious, of a generic unity in man, as the true basis of the representative economy in the covenant of works. The human race is not an aggregate of independent atoms, but constitutes an organic whole, with a common life springing from a common ground. There is in man what we may call a common nature. That common nature is not a mere generalisation of logic, but a substantive reality." Thus, the stress of the rationalistic objection appears to him so heavy, that it drives him to the solution he had before refuted. For the reasons stated on p. 339, this resort appears to me invalid. It is true, Adam was "the root of all mankind." This race unity is, as our Confession states, an all-important condition of the federal union. But apart from each human person, we see in this race—unity no moral, and still less any personal entity, to be the subject of responsibility.

The difficulty then recurs:—Is the doctrine of original sin founded on that which seems to the natural conscience an intrinsic injustice, punishing innocent persons, without their consent, for another man's sin? Let the student bear in mind, that we have no intention of denying the mysteriousness of the divine dispensation of the fall of our race in their first father. It is an inscrutable providence. But while the view I sustain, leaves it enveloped in a mystery which the wisest and best of us most clearly see will never be solved in this world; the advantage I claim is, that it leaves the doctrine in a state where no man can convict it of injustice. This advantage appears in two ways. First:—man reasons chiefly by parallel instances; his reasoning is comparison. Consequently, in a case wholly unique, where there is no parallel, while he may not comprehend, he cannot convict of injustice. The case is above his grasp; he has no experimental scales in which to weigh it. Second:—our fall in Adam, as properly stated, lacks the essential point wherein the caviller finds, in the instance of his pretended parallel, the intrinsic injustice. But it is evident, on consideration, that, upon the theory of immediate imputation, that essential point is yielded to the caviller. It is, that the innocent is punished, without his consent, for the guilty. Let us suppose the case usually cited for illustration, the peaceful citizen charged, under human laws, with the putative guilt of a murder to which he had not consented. This injustice is indisputable. But let us see what is involved in the fact of personal innocency in this case; for there lies the basis of our moral judgment about it. It means that this peaceful citizen has complied with the prohibitory laws of his country, in refraining from all injury to others' lives. But a law, sustained by sanction, is of the nature of a covenant with the citizens. The man who has actually kept the law has thereby earned his covenanted title to immunity. This is what this man means, by claiming his innocency. He has been invested by the covenant of the law itself, with this title to immunity, before the putative murder was committed, and he can now be righteously divested of this title only by his own transgression. To impute to this man now, the guilt of peccatum alienum divests him of this pre-existent righteous title to immunity. There is the impregnable ground upon which he will resist the charge.

Now, let us represent imputation as the Scriptures do, and the sinner fallen in Adam has no such argument to use. He does not approach the judicial issue clothed with a pre-existing, personal title to favour, derived from a previous, personal rectitude under a covenant of works. For, previous to his condemnation in Adam, he has no personal, innocent existence, not for one moment, not even in any correct order of thought; for he has had no actual existence at all. He enters existence depraved, as he enters it guilty; he enters it guilty as he enters it depraved. This is the amount of his federal union with Adam; that the offspring shall have, ab initio, the same legal status and moral nature, which his head determined for himself, by his acts while under probation. This statement is strictly correspondent to the facts revealed and experienced. And it has this great advantage, that it leaves the sinner, fallen in Adam, no pretext to complain that he has been stripped of any just personal title to immunity, by thus bringing him under putative guilt. For he had no such personal title to be stripped of, seeing he had no personal existence at all, prior to the depravity and guilt. This dispensation of God, then, remains unique, without any parallel in any human jurisprudence. It is solemn, mysterious, awful; but it is placed where it is impossible to convict it of injustice on God's part. That His exercise of His sovereignty in this strange dispensation is holy, righteous, benevolent, and wise, we have this sufficient proof; that He has given His own Son, in free grace, to repair the mischiefs which human sin causes under the case. Let us remember, that the covenant of paradise was liberal, equitable, and splendidly beneficent in its own character. Its failure was exclusively man's and Satan's fault. God has not been the efficient of any man's sin or depravation, but only the permissive Disposer:—the only efficients of both evils have been men and their spiritual seducers. In the great, gospel Remedy, God is real Efficient.

12. That one's view of original sin will be decisive of his whole system of theology, is obvious from the familiar truth; that the remedy is determined by the disease. As is the diagasis, so will be the medical treatment. If the Pelagian view of human nature prevails, the corresponding view of its regeneration must prevail. Thus, faith, repentance, and the other essential graces of the new life, will be traced to the human will as their source. Then, the office-work of the Spirit will be degraded; and the Socinian result, which denies His personality will be natural. The analysis of Nestorianism will show us also, how the same view of human nature and of free-agency, will modify the doctrine of the Hypostatic Union, preparing the way for a belief in a merely human Christ.

But if the scriptural doctrines of native depravity and federal representation be firmly held, then there will follow, as reasonable corollaries, all the points of the Calvinistic, or Augustinian scheme, supernatural regeneration, unconditional election, perseverance in grace, divinity of Christ, and personality and divinity of the Holy Ghost.


9 That the drift of the scheme makes the infant soul initially pure may he seen from Hodge on Romans 5.13. Theol. vol. 2, pp. 210, 203. Thornwell, vol. I, pp. 346, 347, 349. Chalmers' Theo. Institutes, vol. I, pp. 485 and 497.